The Rays love scrappiness. They love the little guys who play their hearts out and hustle and do everything they possibly can to help the team win games. Scrappiness doesn’t make a player great. But it’s nice when it works out that a “vintage Rays prospect” happens to be a nice prospect overall as well.
Ryan Brett is 5’9″, 180, not exactly an imposing figure. He’s a second baseman and he was a 3rd round pick by the Rays in 2010 out of Highline High School. But he makes the most of what he has. Brett made his pro debut in 2010, posting a .303/.364/.404 line with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 9 RBI, and most impressively 12 bases in 15 tries in 27 games for the GCL Rays. He did make 6 errors in 24 games at second base, showing his inexperience. He followed that up with a nice season at Advanced-Rookie Princeton, posting a .300/.371/.470 line with 22 doubles, 5 triples, 3 homers, 24 RBI, and 21 bases in 24 tries in 61 games. He also walked more than he struck out, 26 to 24. There was one problem, though: his defense. In 59 games at second base, Brett made a ghastly 18 errors, 2 more than Ben Zobrist has made in 293 career major league games at second base.
But in 2012, Brett has started to put everything together. Thus far for Low-Bowling Green, he has a .300/.329/.425 line with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, and 6 RBI. He currently has a 9-game hitting streak going. He has walked just 4 times compared to 14 strikeouts and he hasn’t been able to read pitchers yet, stealing just 1 base while being caught once. But the big thing for Brett is that he has worked ardently to improve his defense and has made just 1 error in 16 games at second base.
Ryan Brett is not just your utility infielder-type player that the Rays seem to draft so often. He has some deceptive power for his size, with the potential to be a 25 double, 10 triple, 10 homer threat, and he has the speed to be a 30-stolen base threat. His power is something that separates him from a Tyler Bortnick-type whose power is negligible. He makes contact and he can be tough to strike out, and with his speed he could be a .280 hitter. And defensively, he’s always had the range and the arm but he has made huge strides to smooth out his actions and start looking like an above-average defender. Brett still has things he’s working on. He needs to make more solid contact because he’s dependent on beating out groundballs to keep his average up, and he needs to get his patience and stolen base ability back up to where they were previously. Brett is by no means anything remotely close to a sure thing. But he has the work ethic to take advantage of all his abilities. Ryan Brett isn’t the flashiest prospect, nor is he the best. But he has the intangibles the Rays are looking for and is exactly the type of player they love to build their franchise around.